Wednesday, June 8, 2011

CBI likely to take a call on Maran in 20 days


Sivasankaran has given list of witnesses and documents: CBI sources

A day after recording the statement of the former Aircel owner, C. Sivasankaran, in connection with the ongoing probe into the 2G spectrum allocation during 2001-2007, the Central Bureau of Investigation indicated on Tuesday that it would take a final call in about 20 days on whether a case has been made out against Union Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran who held the Telecom portfolio from May 2004 to May 2007.

Highly placed CBI sources said Mr. Sivasankaran had submitted a list of witnesses and documents to CBI officials in support of his allegations that mainly relate to the period when Mr. Maran was Union Telecom Minister. “We have to examine all the documents and see if this can be converted into a full fledged case,'' the sources explained.

As Mr. Maran is a Union Minister, the CBI would need to take permission from the Central government under Section 6 (A) of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act before conducting investigation against him for alleged offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

The sources said the CBI would also take into account Mr. Maran's statements denying allegations of “arm twisting'' Aircel. The sources said it would take about three weeks for the process of verification to be completed and documents to be scrutinised.

The CBI had registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) in January for the 2001-2007 period, on the directions of the Supreme Court, to ascertain if there were any violations of the telecom policy or ulterior motives involved in the grant of licences during that period.

As part of the ongoing probe, Mr.Sivasankaran's detailed statement was recorded by the CBI officials at an “undisclosed location'' in New Delhi on Monday.

The sources said Mr. Sivasankaran has levelled “serious charges'' against Mr. Maran. The former Aircel owner is likely to be made a key witness in the PE and his statement could pave the way for the registration of a regular case pertaining to Mr. Maran's tenure as Telecom Minister.
The sources said the Aircel-Maxis deal would be examined by the CBI. Maxis Communications Berhad, a leading Malaysian telecom company that began operations in 1995, acquired a 74 per cent stake in Aircel on March 21, 2006. Sindya Securities and Investments Private Ltd. holds the remaining 26 per cent equity. The former owner of Aircel alleged that he was forced by the then Telecom Minister Mr. Maran to sell his stake to Maxis.
The Justice Shivraj V. Patil Committee report is also being looked into by the CBI. Submitted to the Telecom Ministry earlier this year, the report has found fault with the functioning of Mr. Maran during his tenure as Communications and IT Minister between May 2004 and May 2007.

As reported earlier in The Hindu, the Shivraj Patil committee report had criticised Mr. Maran for not consulting the Telecom Commission, the Telecom Department's decision-making body, and ignoring the Group of Ministers (GoM) while taking crucial policy decisions.

Libyan 'rape' victim arrives in Romania

A week after being deported from Qatar, woman who said she was gang raped by Gaddafi troops lands at UN refugee centre.

Last Modified: 07 Jun 2011 14:49

A Libyan woman who said she was raped by troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, has landed at a UN centre in Romania, a week after being deported back to Libya by Qatar, the UN refugee agency has said.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] said on Tuesday that Iman Al-Obeidi had been taken to a UN refugee transit centre in the western Romanian city of Timisoara.

"She is currently being cared for by UNHCR staff along with other refugees who have been evacuated from a number of difficult locations in the world," Machiel Salomons, UNHCR representative in Romania, said.

Salomons said al-Obeidi was evacuated from Libya on Sunday by UNHCR staff and flown to Romania via Italy, arriving at the refugee camp late that day.

Claudia Liute, the UNHCR spokeswoman, said: "It is a delicate case and I can't say more. She will leave Romania in a maximum of six months."
The UN centre is a temporary haven for refugees from around the world awaiting resettlement to a third country.

The announcement comes almost two days after Marwa al-Obeidi, Iman's sister, said that she was on her way to the US. Marwa has said that Iman wants to move to the US.

Al-Obeidi spent nearly a month in Qatar before authorities there forced her and her parents to board a flight last week to Benghazi in Libya in violation of international law, the UNHCR said.

She left Qatar having reportedly suffered bruises to her body.
Obeidi, 29, made headlines in March when she rushed into the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, where most foreign correspondents were staying, and recounted her story of being stopped at a checkpoint, dragged away and gang-raped by Gaddafi troops.
Her claims could not be independently verified.


US plans to sabotage Pakistan nuke facilities: Ahmadinejad

(Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flashes the victory sign during his press conference in Tehran on June 7, 2011. – AFP Photo)

TEHRAN: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday accused Washington, Tehran’s arch-foe, of planning to sabotage Pakistan’s nuclear facilities, during a media conference in Tehran.

“We have precise information that America wants to sabotage the Pakistani nuclear facilities in order to control Pakistan and to weaken the government and people of Pakistan,” the hardline president said.

The United States would then use the UN Security Council “and some other international bodies as levers to prepare the ground for a massive presence (in Pakistan) and weaken the national sovereignty of Pakistan,” he added, without elaborating.

Pakistan is the only Islamic nation with nuclear weapons, and has close relations with Iran.

In order to fight al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents in Pakistan, Washington has intensified its aerial operations in Iran’s southeastern neighbour.

Pakistani Islamist groups have at the same time multiplied their assaults on Pakistani military convoys and also on transport and fuel convoys through Pakistani territory intended for NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Congress sees dividends in tough line Centre working on strong response to SC notice on crackdown


New Delhi, June 7: The Congress leadership is convinced that its tough stand on Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare has yielded instant political dividends and that even marginal success in portraying them as part of the RSS’s destabilising game would help it significantly in the future.

Sources said Sonia Gandhi backed the tough line and asked the government to focus on governance and delivery instead of getting bogged down in perpetual fire-fighting.
Sonia, in fact, expressed unhappiness at the government’s reluctance to act firmly in adverse circumstances and for allowing an impression of drift to gain ground for such a long time. “There is no question of giving in to abnormal pressures now. Nobody should take our readiness to accommodate as our weakness,” a senior cabinet minister told The Telegraph.

There is a sense of alarm at different levels in the party because of an impression that the post-midnight eviction of Ramdev and his followers had not been appreciated by common people.

Sources said many senior leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, were worried about the long-term fallout but the key players in the government convinced them that the situation would change for the better in the coming months. They contended that giving in to pressure would have irreparably undermined the government’s authority.

While government sources are hoping that the “new crop of protesters” would dissipate if they find the going tough, Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said: “Although the basic nature of this government was liberal, these groups had misused the generosity shown to them.”

The party, however, wants the government to strengthen the legal framework against corruption and take the promised measures irrespective of the involvement of the civil society.

The sources revealed the government was preparing a strong response to the Supreme Court notice on the operation at the Ramlila ground. Justifying its decision to act without losing time, the government will reveal that credible intelligence inputs were available on the possibility of a law and order breakdown, including a terror strike.

The government also plans to present visual evidence to counter the propaganda of police brutality and the comparisons to the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre.

The party continued its propaganda about the RSS designs to create anarchy in the country for the third consecutive day.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said: “There were four reasons for this unstable political scenario in the country. One, the nervousness of the RSS about the terror links and the role of its cadres in the Samjhauta train blast; two, mounting evidence against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi; three, desperation of the permanent PM-in-waiting L.K. Advani; and four, the Left anarchism.”

Asserting that the government will not allow instability at any cost, the Congress spokesperson said the RSS was working on a plan to unite the communal elements by bringing Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Rithambara and Ramdev on one platform.

Asked why the government was negotiating with Ramdev if he was only a “mask” of the RSS, Tiwari said: “At times, you have to tell the mask that it is playing in dangerous hands. And the government also wanted to tell him that it was already working on laws and a plan to unearth black money.”

Tiwari described the Anna Hazare group as a curious mix of “ignorance and arrogance”. He said the attitude that “accept our conditions or we hit back” was dangerous and betrayed a poor sense of democratic culture. “My way or high way. Is this democracy?” he asked, hinting that the so-called civil society group was trying to bring in a culture of “might is right”.

One senior general secretary questioned the locus standi of the Hazare group and said: “The 200 television channels that chase them have made them so big. Remove the cameras and then judge their worth and their mass following.”

Asked if the party was concerned about Hazare’s fast tomorrow, Congress leaders said the phase to worry was over and the time had come for the party to confront them and expose them before the people.

Yemen Qaida hub bleeds

A tribesman guards a street near tribal leader Sadeq al-Ahmar’s house in Sanaa on Tuesday. (Reuters)
Sanaa, June 7 (Reuters): At least 45 people were killed in an al Qaida-held town in the latest violence in Yemen and protesters took to the streets of the capital on Tuesday to demand that President Ali Abdullah Saleh stay in exile.

The army said it had killed 30 Islamist militants, including a local al Qaida leader, in the southern town of Zinjibar. A local official said 15 soldiers had been killed in the battles for control of the town seized by militants about 10 days ago.

The fighting was another symptom of instability in Yemen, whose leader left for Saudi Arabia at the weekend for surgery on wounds suffered in an attack on his palace in Sanaa.

Demonstrators, who have been trying to topple Saleh for months, called a “million-man march” in Sanaa to pile pressure on him to stay away and hand over power permanently.

The volatile situation in Yemen, which lies on vital oil shipping lanes, alarms western powers and neighbouring oil giant Saudi Arabia, who fear that chaos would enable the local al Qaida franchise to operate more freely there.
They see Saleh’s absence as a chance to ease him out of office after nearly 33 years of rule.

“We are calling for a peaceful and orderly transition,” US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said on Monday.

Yemen’s acting leader, Vice President Abu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, said Saleh would return within days.

Saudi officials say it is up to Saleh whether he returns home or not but they and their western allies may want to revive a Gulf-brokered transition deal under which the Yemeni leader would quit in return for immunity from prosecution.

“Saleh’s departure is probably permanent,” said Robert Powell, Yemen analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Our batting will be tested, says Rohit

Port of Spain: It was a fresh start for Rohit Sharma, in Port of Spain, on Monday. A match winning unbeaten 75-ball 68 in his comeback innings in one-day cricket will bolster his stake in the side.
The Man of the Match looked resolute from the first delivery and later, in the post-match media conference, he said that for him, the West Indies tour is the stage which will help him cement his place in the India team.

The following are excerpts
If there is lack of solid openers in the side

If the openers have been selected out of so many players, then I am sure they must have something special in them. Parthiv (Patel) and Shikhar (Dhawan) have done really well in the IPL. Yes, there is lot of pressure on the middle-order as there isn’t much of experience there (opening slot). Though Virat (Kohli), (Suresh) Raina, Yusuf (Pathan) and me have played a bit of international cricket, our batting will be tested in this tour.

The absence of stars and the added responsibility…

Yes, you can put it like that… But then, it doesn’t mean that when I am playing with seniors around, there’s no responsibility. Every time you wear the India cap, there is responsibility. It’s important to take pride in what you are doing.

Whether pressure of expectations affects him

Yes, expectations are bound to play in your mind. However, I feel you can take positives from that. I try to play my natural game and not think about what others are thinking about me… At the end of the day, it’s the runs you score that matter. No matter how talented you are, in the middle you have to score runs. This is very important phase of my career. I have to keep scoring.

If missing out on a World Cup berth still hurts

Of course, I was hugely disappointed. But then I had to move on. I wanted to make the most of the IPL. To some extent, I was successful. I had a good IPL. Whenever you are in good form, you have to carry on.

On his attitude being criticised time and again

I don’t think there’s anything wrong about my attitude. People have their opinions and I am not bothered about that. People will have their views when you play international cricket. You have to take the positives out of that. Honestly speaking, the more people talk, the more confident I get.

The way ahead for him…

Every tour is important. This will be the tour where I can set benchmarks and cement my place in the side. I want to play for India as long as possible.

If he sees himself as a main player of the team in future

I do… But there’s a long way to go. I would try to be consistent in every outing and keep on scoring heavily. When you are doing well, you have to think of moving to the next level.

If being the World champions adds to the pressure

Being the World champions is not a joke…. It’s a big honour for all of us. Definitely, from now on, there will be more expectations. People will keep a close eye on us. We need to keep doing the right things and win matches. We are aware of what is expected from world champions.

On his improved fitness level

I have worked really hard on my fitness… I had to sacrifice a lot of things in last three months. I always believe in moving to the next level. I need to keep working on fitness and batting… Keep upgrading, you may say. If you want to play for 10-15 years, the most important thing is to stay fit.

On conditions in the middle during the first ODI

It was physically demanding and extremely tiring… However, thanks to the IPL, we are now used to playing in the hottest of the conditions. It wasn’t much different here.

The present West Indies side

Well, they are a good team. They also have the advantages of playing at home. Most of our players are not suited to these conditions. It will be a good test for us. I don’t want to talk about them. I just want to focus on what we need to do.

Official probe begins into nuclear disaster (Japan News)

Independent panel granted power to grill all officials

Staff writer

An independent panel of experts launched a probe Tuesday into the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant amid strong domestic and international criticism that the government and Tepco have bungled their response.

This is the first official investigation since the deadly earthquake and tsunami hit the Tohoku region March 11 and crippled the plant, leading to the worst nuclear crisis since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Headed by Yotaro Hatamura, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, the panel will scrutinize the incident from a broad view with the aim of containing the damage and preventing similar disasters.

The investigators agreed not to turn the probe into a blame game. Their stated goal is to ensure that "the true nature of the accident" is unveiled.

They will have the authority to question Tokyo Electric Power Co. and government officials as well as Cabinet ministers, including the prime minister.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan, present at the panel's kickoff, stressed the importance of the probe, especially amid international concern over the accident.

"The world's eyes are on (the panel) . . . and I want the panel to ultimately compile a report that answers to" the international community, Kan said. "I think Japan's reputation as a nation depends on whether it can gain international trust by disclosing everything gleaned in the investigation into the cause" of the crisis.
Kan also underscored the panel's independence.

"I would like this committee to look into the incident and hand down judgments completely independent from the past nuclear administration," said Kan, who will only attend future meetings if asked to make statements. "There have been good things as well as problems with the nuclear administration, but I don't want (the panel) to assess the situation within such a range," he said.

The 10-member group was chosen carefully to ensure they had no vested interests in nuclear power. It includes Yukio Takasu, a former representative to the United Nations, Michio Furukawa, the mayor of Kawamata, Fukushima Prefecture, and author Kunio Yanagida, known as an expert on crisis management.

"Nuclear power has extremely high energy density, and I think it is dangerous," Hatamura, an expert on issues pertaining to human error, said during the meeting. "I think it was a mistake that this dangerous thing was considered safe."

After the meeting, Hatamura told reporters that the panel will draft an interim report by the end of the year and compile a final report once the nuclear plant is stabilized.
But he admitted he has no idea when that may be.

Hatamura also said the panel is not looking to point fingers at people deemed responsible for the accident, because that could have the negative effect of them keeping silent out of fear.
"If the person being questioned was about to make a statement but refused over the possibility of being held accountable, we may not be able to unveil the truth," Hatamura said. "I think it is more important for us to find out the truth."

He said a different party should pursue any culpability.

Rana doesn't testify, trial to see closing arguments

Last updated on: June 07, 2011 10:43 IST

The defence for Tahawwur Rana [ Images ], co-accused with David Headley [ Images ] in the 26/11 attacks, rested its case in Chicago after calling two witnesses but the Pakistani Canadian himself did not testify.

At the hearing of the terror trial, the defence said employees at Rana's immigration offices in New York or Toronto did not remember working with Headley. The employees -- Rehana and Kashif Khan -- among others, take calls at the offices.

he defence called in a computer forensic expert and an immigration attorney but Rana waived his right to testify. Closing arguments by the prosecution and defence are scheduled for Tuesday.

Computer forensic expert Yaniv Schiff Moshe said he researched Rana's computers from July 1, 2009 to October 15, 2009 and found that no search was conducted on them except on one computer for Jyllands Posten cultural editor Fleming Rose or Kurt Westergaard the cartoonist who drew the controversial cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. This one computer was used by Headley himself to search the Danish newspaper office and its targets.

The government and prosecution argued on computer technicalities like "unallocated space" in which technicians can check which websites were visited on a computer. Schiff also said he saw in a link of a Yahoo group -- an Abdalian forum posting and a Mumbai terror attacks [ Images ] posting on Rana's computer. But these links never opened.

After the presentation of witnesses, Judge Harry D Leinenweber asked Rana if he had consulted his lawyers and wanted to testify but a frail-looking Rana, dressed in a brown suit, said that he did not want to testify.
Rana's lawyer Charles Swift [ Images ] said, the government could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Rana was guilty. "The government could not prove its case so Rana is not testifying," Swift said.

Rana's relatives, mostly women, dressed in salwar kameez, including his wife Samraz, sat in the courtroom.

    The(The)  defence also called an attorney who said his work with First World -- Rana's immigration company -- included legitimate seminars on immigration issues.
Earlier, a video recording produced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation before the court revealed that Lashkar-e-Tayiba [ Images ] operative Headley had approached the Inter-Services Intelligence to help Rana get back to Pakistan.

Headley used his personal links to favour Rana, FBI agent Jeffrey Parsons said while deposing.
Rana, 50, had served in the Pakistani Army as a doctor. He served in the Gulf War in Saudi Arabia and got injured there and recuperated in Germany [ Images ].

After that Rana was posted in the glacier region in Pakistan where he declined to go following which he was declared a deserter and could not travel to Pakistan again. "Headley used his personal links to get me the favour", the FBI agent quoted Rana as stating.

Parsons said he had interviewed Pakistani-Canadian Rana with another agent Benabides. In the video shown in court, Rana said he thought the LeT does not know Headley is with the ISI. He also said that Rana mentioned his meeting with Al Qaeda [ Images ] commander Ilyas Kashmiri, believed to have been killed in a US drone attack in South Waziristan last week.

During previous hearings Headley had testified that ISI was linked to the 2008 Mumbai terror strikes.
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Maran, Raja to depose before JPC

07 June 2011

Former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran,  currently the textiles minister and his successor in the telecom ministry A Raja will depose before the JPC which will summon a total of 85 witnesses. Included among the witnesses would be representatives of top industrialists and BJP members like Arun Shourie and Yashwant  Sinha who served as telecom ministers during the NDA regime.

The committee which comprises members drawn from political parties is examining the alleged nexus between corporate India and politicians which led to India's largest-ever scam with telecom licences being given away at throwaway prices to companies that were not eligible.

Meanwhile, Raja, who was arrested in February on charges of conspiracy and cheating, is currently in jail. He stands accused of engineering the scam along with companies like Unitech Wireless and Reliance Telecom.

Maran, who like Raja is from the DMK, is said to be under pressure to quit as textiles minister.

The CBI is investigating complaints that during his tenure as telecom minister from 2004 to 2007, Maran forced former Aircel owner C Sivasankran to sell his company to Malaysia-based A Anandakrishnan who is known to be close to Maran's family

Sivasankran told the CBI yesterday that during his tenure as telecom minister, Maran refused to grant licences necessary for Aircel to operate mobile networks and after years of being denied, he sold his telecom to A Anandakrishnan.

The new owner was granted 14 licences and a few months later, he invested Rs800 crore in Sun TV, owned by Maran's brother. It is alleged that the investment in Sun was a kickback for the telecom licences granted to Aircel.

Denying the charges leveled against him, Maran said nobody could force anyone to sell their business. He added he never had to force anyone and if anyone felt they were being forced, they could have move the courts against him.

Uma Bharti returns to BJP, to lead UP campaign

Updated Jun 07, 2011 at 12:36pm IST

                                                 PHOTO: YASHBANT NEGI/ Courtesy  :INDIA TODAY

New Delhi: Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti, who was expelled from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in December 2005 for indiscipline, was re-inducted in the party on Tuesday after almost five and a half years.

The decision to re-induct Uma Bharti was taken just days after the BJP's national executive meet concluded in Lucknow.

Announcing Uma Bharti's return in the BJP, party president Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday welcomed her in the party at the party's headquarters in New Delhi.

Uma Bharti, who has been one of the leading advocates of building a grand Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya where Babri Masjid once stood, has returned to the party just as it is getting ready for the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. The state is scheduled to elect a new Assembly in 2012.

Welcoming her, Gadkari made it clear that Uma will focus on Uttar Pradesh politics with an eye on the 2012 Assembly elections.

"BJP welcomes return of Uma Bharti into the party. Umaji will focus on Uttar Pradesh BJP. She will focus on the party's campaign in Uttar Pradesh. She will handle the party campaign in Uttar Pradesh," said Gadkari.

"We will bring a strong BJP to fight against Mayawati's gunda rajya (rule) and Mulayam Singh's jungle rajya in Uttar Pradesh," he added.

Uma said that she wanted to forget the past and make a new beginning.
"I want to forget the last 5 years I have spent out of BJP. We will work hard to take up from Ram Mandir to Ram rajya," she said.

Uma Bharti was issued a showcause notice by the party leadership after she had objected to LK Advani's praise of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. She had also slammed Advani for 'indiscipline' and had also demanded his expulsion. He had challenged Advani in full view of journalists and TV cameras and walked out of the party.

She was then expelled from the BJP for violating the discipline of the party.

Uma Bharti had then formed her own outfit Bhartiya Janshakti Party. However, she failed to establish herself politically and her party faded away.